About Donna

Hi i’m Donna Wanderluswelcome to Haute Culture.

Haute Culture project is a personal, professional and educational exploration focused on sharing my primary experiences of worldwide travel through researching cultural costume and textiles.

Loving life in Ho Chi Minh City on my way to be a judge on Vietnam's Next Top Model!

Loving life in Ho Chi Minh City on my way to be a judge on Vietnam’s Next Top Model!

So what will you see here?

I am a roving researcher who is  really fascinated by the way people dress in different countries and from different cultures. So naturally I have decided to pair this passion with real life and devote my present time to researching traditional cultural costume, textile design and going on adventures. Here on Haute Culture you can expect to see all the things that I find beautiful, interesting, colourful, unique and funny about the places I go and the people I meet along the way.

After living in Vietnam for less than 2 years I see that increased tourism, the access to technology, media and mass produced goods is making the world a smaller place. New generations of indigenous and ethnic groups are exposed to a new way of life and opportunities previously unknown by their predecessors. In a world where first impressions count some of these people strive too or are forced to fit in in order to earn a living and their place in the new world. Traditional identities through dress are either evolving or slowly being eradicated. I want to provide a voice for these people, capture, and someway preserve the diverse and beautifully handcrafted costumes that many ethnic minority people have made over generations, thus forming an important part of their cultural identity before they die out.

The original term Haute Couture pronounced  ōt ko͞oˈto͝or is French for ‘High Fashion’. Haute meaning high, luxury and expensive, couture meaning fashionable clothes. Haute Culture on a similar vibe refers primarily (but not limited) to the diverse and beautifully handcrafted costumes that many ethnic minority, tribal and traditional people have made over generations, thus forming an important part of their cultural identity.

What’s new?
My life, that’s what! I have been either studying or working within fashion and textiles since the age of 16, thats half of my life so far. I was always a fashion geek, not in the “designer brands, obsessed with trends and shopping sense”, but really studying hard to learn all I could about different areas of design and achieve the best grades I could. After 8 years of studying lots of fashion related subjects and working for half a year in NYC, I left university with a 1st Class Honours and landed my first job in Shanghai, and …     I …    absolutely hated it 🙁 8 months later I returned home with my tape measure between my legs, but I was pleasantly surprised to be offered a job as an A-level textiles teacher. From 2008 – 2013 I worked part time teaching fashion and textiles whilst establishing my own dream vintage textiles business Spinster’s Emporium.

Over the years I grew more creatively and professionally, and I did a good job to get my business all the right attention, from being featured in Vogue magazine to selling my vintage textile range in Liberty of London. I worked in different colleges and universities and I was even given the opportunity to study a teaching degree for free. More and more seeds were being sown and roots were growing deeper, thats when I had my very own typical “Eat, Prey, Love” moment and realised I didn’t want any of it anymore. When everyone else was having their “gap yaah” at university, I was actually studying. Yes I lived in NYC for a short stint, which was one of the best years of my life, but after that I was just work, work, work, with no time to even go on holiday anymore. I fantasied about traveling around the world and CRAVED to leave, I started looking for a way to get out of the UK as quickly as possible.

It took about 5 months but in July 2013 I sold my business in Nottingham, said goodbye to my family and bestest friends, and headed to Hanoi, Vietnam to start a full time career as a fashion lecturer. Since then I have spent all of my holidays and weekends travelling Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos, and that is just the start.hauteculturefashion blog 10 textile tribes vietnam

Future plans
I currently work alternate years, 1 year in Hanoi followed by 1 year traveling and working on Haute Culture. In August 2017 I will finish my 1 year contract in Hanoi and travel to Central and South America, I hope that this blog will be more than just a series of diary entries that only my mum will read, but will also act as an inspiring and honest guide for others to learn something new about places and people from all over the world. I will experiment with expanding my skills into previously unexplored fields of expertise such as writing, photography, filming, video editing, digital media, marketing and promotion. My dream is to be self employed once more with my business in my backpack.

Oh and don’t forget to follow Haute Culture here! Thanks for stopping by, love Donna Wanderlust x


  • Reply
    January 19, 2015 at 2:35 am

    You’re blog is so interesting and beautiful! I have recently started a blog using the Sela Theme and I have a few questions about it. You seem like you know what your doing…if you would be so kind to get in contact with me I would really appreciate it. Thank you!


  • Reply
    Rudy Russell
    March 5, 2016 at 6:55 pm

    Hey Donna,
    Your blog is absolutely amazing!!!
    I adore woven textiles and loved reading about your blog on Vietnamese traditional costume. I am currently researching traditional textiles as its become a real hobby of mine. I am currently traveling around Vietnam and would love to a visit some where I could do /watch or just be apart of fabric weaving on looms as find it so fascinating.
    If you have any advise it would be much appreciated,
    Many thanks,
    Rudy Russell. X

    • Reply
      March 6, 2016 at 3:18 am

      thanks rudy, I am traveling today but there is so much information on the blog, read through some articles, contact ethos spirit of community in Sapa, they can help you

  • Reply
    Ania @ Hitch-Hikers Handbook
    March 14, 2016 at 4:59 pm

    Hey Donna,
    I have just discovered your blog and I must say, it’s great! I have never seen a travel blog that would also focus on local fashion and fabrics. Although I have never been a fashion buff in Europe, I must admit that during our trip to Central Asia, China and Mongolia last year I loved all the local dresses and started seeking out different clothes from that part of the world. I guess, you would really love those countries, especially Turkmenistan!
    Take care and I keep up your work. Great blog!

    • Reply
      September 20, 2016 at 2:56 pm

      Wow thank you for all your kind words. Yes I would love to go to Central Asia and tour the stans one day!

  • Reply
    Anurag Akhand Sharma
    January 12, 2017 at 10:56 am

    Hi it’s quite interesting to see your pictures. I am looking support from your side I am sketching a poster of tribal women as inspired from one of your previous pic. of Karen Tribal women. I need your permission for using that subject in sketching that portrait. Kindly mail me at akhand.sharma@hotmail.com or call me +919412427845. I want to join you in your future projects. Awaiting for your reply.

  • Reply
    May 18, 2017 at 4:25 am

    Hi Donna,

    Love your blog, love your images and the posts!

    I was recently exploring your blog page about Lo Lo community in Vietnam on http://hauteculturefashion.com/flower-lolo-ethnic-minority-vietnam/#comments because of my textiles assignment at school on social projects done by artisans, community and organisation.

    Your blog post about them was really interesting and it helped me a lot to discover their costumes, textile works, and practices so I really want to find out more about their techniques, skills, materials they use and where they get those resources from.

    Can I please ask you if you know anything more about their textile practices and their materials?

    Your response will assist me a lot in understanding their people, culture and expertise!

    Thank you so much!
    I look forward to hear from you soon 🙂

    Kind Regards,

  • Reply
    Leslie P. Salunga
    September 2, 2017 at 9:32 pm

    Hi Donna! Fantastic blog. It is very touching and inspiring that you have written about tribes from the Philippines. I wish I can also travel and explore different places and cultures. I am writing an article about Philippine textiles and fabrics. I would like to ask for your permission to use some of your photos (Yakan cloth and Tboli textiles) for my article. It will be published through an online magazine… Thanks!!!

    • Reply
      November 12, 2017 at 5:52 pm

      Yes sure go ahead please credit and link back to my articles

  • Reply
    Anurag Akhand Sharma
    November 20, 2017 at 8:09 am

    Hi Donna your future plans sparked me I am interested to join you. Kindly asses how I can be the member of your group. Mail me at akhand.sharma@hotmail.com

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